Audi A3 Cabriolet 2008 review
It wasn't a promising start. The temperature was toying with single figures; the rain was sheeting down; the wind was gusting to 50km/h and there was a convertible to drive.
Fast forward two hours and a flight north. The temperature was in the mid 20s; there wasn't a cloud in the sky; the wind was a mere zephyr (not the Ford kind) . . . and the Audi A3 Cabriolet was mine for the rest of the day.
What was there to do but to drop the soft top — the optional fully automatic roof stowing in around nine seconds flush to the body (no tonneau needed) — folding to leave exactly the same boot space as when it is up, 260 litres, and thanks to 50:50 split-fold rear seats, swelling to 674 litres with both rear seats folded down — the largest luggage area in its class.
Explore the 2008 Audi A3 range
There is also a semi-automatic version with a centrally placed handle unlocked by hand before the automatic release rapidly opens the lid.
There was little cabin turbulence in the four-seater — even less with an optional wind deflector in place.
However, positioned immediately behind the driver and front seat passenger this does take out the rear seats.
With the double insulated rag top — a good weight saving here — up, the `wind' may have dropped but there was more road noise.
As launched, the A3 Cabriolet range features two sporty, yet economical engines — the tried-and-tested 118kW 1.8 TFSI and 147kW 2.0 TFSI, both taking advantage of Audi's direct injection engine technology combined with turbocharging.
Both engines, says the maker, return a fuel consumption figure of 7.6 litres per 100km (37 miles per gallon). The turbo motor responds extremely quickly at 2000rpm, the 1.8 TFSI producing maximum torque of 250Nm in just 1.2 seconds, firing the car to 100km/h in just eight seconds when mated with the standard six-speed dual clutch S tronic transmission.
The 2 litre TFSI engine, named Engine of the Year in its class for four consecutive years from 2005, at 1800rpm produces 280Nm of torque on the crankshaft with its peak at 5000rpm.
It is available with a choice of two transmissions, including a six-speed manual or the S tronic which can accelerate the A3 Cabriolet to 100km/h in just 7.3 seconds. In manual mode 7.4 seconds.
I can vouch for the slickness and smoothness of the 2 litre with both S tronic and six-speed manual transmissions, and assume there's not much lost in either with the fractionally smaller motor.
Airbags for driver and front passenger, plus head and thorax side airbags, are all fitted as standard. All four seats feature head restraints.
An electronic stability program with anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution, electronic differential lock and brake assist also is fitted as standard across both models. Prices start at $49,990 for the 1.8 TFSI Attraction (S tronic), the 2.0 TFSI Ambition (six-speed manual) is from $54,900, while the 2.0 TFSI Ambition (S tronic) is from $57,500. Prices have been calculated with 25 per cent luxury car tax. Audi Australia will cover the extra 8 per cent LCT on behalf of its customers until August 26, when the outcome of a Senate Economics Committee inquiry on the tax is expected to become known.
Audi is letting us have 300 A3 Cabriolets this year, half of which have already been sold.
Range and Specs
|1.8 TFSI Attraction||1.8L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$10,120 – 13,860||2008 Audi A3 2008 1.8 TFSI Attraction Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Ambition||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$12,100 – 16,060||2008 Audi A3 2008 2.0 TFSI Ambition Pricing and Specs|
|1.6 Attraction||1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN||$6,270 – 8,800||2008 Audi A3 2008 1.6 Attraction Pricing and Specs|
|1.8 TFSI Ambition||1.8L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$8,030 – 11,330||2008 Audi A3 2008 1.8 TFSI Ambition Pricing and Specs|